Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even know you have it. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.
How does a deficiency of your ear affect so much of your brain? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will frequently be the outcome, And isolation can bring about memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation fatigue. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can interfere with the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your memories to start to get fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either physical or mental varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually increase your memory.
In this way, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And having trouble recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s often hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The red flags raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.